What to do next: Crazy idea number 3

So the third (and final in the series) crazy idea is clearly going to be a motorcycle adventure – after all that’s what I keep ending up dong.

The question is only where?

One option is the Scandinavia and Baltics trip, which is something that I have not done yet as when I was on my original trip in Europe (1996) it was raining up there. Incessantly.

So this map summarizes pretty well what I was thinking, except I was not planning to do the Iceland bit, and I was not thinking of the Russia bit, but going from Helsinki to Tallinn on the ferry.

worldbybike.com

I stole that image from Gareth and Jo Morgan’s site WorldbyBike. Yes – they are off again on one of their adventures, and that’s their planned route. Have fun guys- I know it will be yet another excellent adventure.

However for me it is not to be – instead, despite the pouring rain outside, I’m going to take advantage of my current location.

pouring rain outside in Fremantle more rain in Fremantle

That’s right, I’m plumbing for an Australian adventure.

I intend to head North from Perth and go across the top then back through the middle. Plenty of desert there, and I’ll run into my brother and family who will be driving the other way up the top somewhere. This is a rough route, which as always with me is subject to frequent and wholesale changes.

Planned Route -  Version A

All this will require a bit more preparation than I currently do. While I’m a beleiver in underpreparing if anything to maximise the adventure. There is a bunch of long distance riding in the desert heat, and I need to make sure that I have the fuel range, the water capacity and the ability to either get help of figure things out myself if I break down.

panoramio

A bit more on the underpreparing – you see the adventure only happens when you find yourself in a situation where you need to fall back on your own wits, but more importantly rely on the help of others. Obviously going out with a plan to depend entirely on others is both stupid and rude, so it’s a fine line. My last trip was from Sydney to Broken Hill, and for preparation I rented a bike and took my current gear. That worked out well – the bike was poorly prepared and so for additional adventure I had to limp to Broken Hill and find and get fitted a new chain there. Oh – and there were no tools on the bike for adjusting the continuously stretching chain.

There are two choices for the bike I take – either I take the KTM Adventure that I own, or I buy another bike and use that. The KTM is fantastic off-road, indeed it really wants to go offroad at any opportunity. It’s also an exciting bike to ride, I have the sidecases for it and it is already sitting in the garage:

ktm adv 950

The downside is the fuel range, reliability and tires. The tank takes 22 litres, but the bike is very thirsty, and I usually get around 300km between refuels. I can get a bigger tank though – for about $1700 plus fitting. KTM’s are great machines, but they are not backed by BMW’s reputation, dealer network or reliability. If I get stuck in the middle of nowhere it may be for a bit longer than with a BMW.

Finally tires.

Amazingly I’ve never had to remove a tire to fix a puncture on the road or even on my own. In North and South America I didn’t have a single puncture, while in Europe to Singapore there was invariably a tire wallah within a few metres of where the puncture happened. Actually in that trip punctures happened a lot, and I learned that the best cure is to change tires early, rather than too late.

In South Africa I had some punctures, including one in a game park, but on the BMW1200GS the tires are tubeless, and so you don’t have to remove the tire to fix them, but simply use a plug. I even managed to fix a huge cut in the sidewall, something which is normally terminal. (as it was – a week later).

So the next alternative is a trust BMW – and I’ve had good experience with the F650 range (3 rides on them – 2 GS’s and the older ST). Here’s the Sth America F650GS, now aging disgracefully in Auckland.

http://gallery.mac.com/lwiggs

I’ve also had a great time with the 1200GS range – that’s the 1200GS I owned in South Africa on the masthead, and in New Zealand I have the adventure version. The adventure version would be fantastic for this trip – it’s a huge machine, but it is completely set up for long dirt and desert riding. The downside is that, well it is expensive.

The 1200 Adventure bike in New Zealand is kinda lonely and needs to be ridden, but it is very difficult to get over here when I am not there to organise it. Moreover the expense of shipping it here and back is silly when I have a KTM in the garage.

Alternatively I could buy a 1200GS Adventure here. The new one looks very cool – it has not just ABS but also traction control, and both have an offroad mode. This is point and shoot stuff for dirt roads, just keep on riding and the tech takes care of most things. The bike is built like the proverbial, and you can sit on one all day, but, well, it costs about $30,000 Australian, which is $30,000 USD these days.

So – option three, and the one that is looking extremely likely, is to head off around the North of Australia on the KTM. With a larger tank, and some reliability work.

Overall – things are so easy these days. There are any number of fantastic bikes along with panniers and other kit that you can overland in pretty harsh conditions. The internet holds all the information you need, and thrre really is no excuse (I’ll regret stating that I know) for screwing up the preparation. Once on the road of course it is easy to find good answers to questions via the web as well.

Warning: plans are subject to change…

About Lance Wiggs

@lancewiggs
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